Zlatan Ibrahimovic to retire from international football

Sweden's Zlatan Ibrahimovic is to quit international football after the Euros. Picture: Christophe Ena/AP
Sweden's Zlatan Ibrahimovic is to quit international football after the Euros. Picture: Christophe Ena/AP
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Sweden striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic has announced he will retire from international football after Euro 2016.

The 34-year-old announced his intentions at a press conference in Nice, a day ahead of a key Group E game against Belgium.

He said, according to the Swedish federation’s website: “Sweden’s last game at the European Championship will be my last match for Sweden. I hope it will not be tomorrow.”

Ibrahimovic, who left Paris St Germain at the end of last season, has been linked with a move to Manchester United as he looks to extend his club career.

He had been included in a provisional Sweden squad for the Olympic football tournament but has ruled out playing in Rio.

The Olympics coincides with the start of major domestic football seasons in Europe.

Ibrahimovic said: “I will not participate in the Olympics.

“Wherever I go, I will always take with me the Swedish flag and be proud of it.”

Even if Sweden lose and fail to qualify for the knockout stages, Ibrahimovic said he would not be disappointed with such an end to his international career.

“To finish on a disappointment, never, because I’m very proud to be captain of Sweden and what I achieved. So I want to take this moment and thank all the supporters, because they make it possible for me to achieve what I have achieved,” he said. “For me disappointment doesn’t exist, only proudness and grateful and very thankful.”

Ibrahimovic is Sweden’s record scorer with 62 goals and can become their joint sixth most-capped player with 116 appearances on Wednesday. Sweden, who have yet to score in the tournament, are likely to need a win against Belgium to qualify for the last 16 after an opening draw with Republic of Ireland and a defeat to Italy.

Looking ahead to the match, Ibrahimovic said: “We need to play a bit more as a team, need to be better.”

Sweden coach Erik Hamren highlighted Ibrahimovic’s contribution to the team and to Swedish soccer in general.

“Our greatest star going is a big loss,” Hamren said. “We have one international player that’s really at the same level as Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo and that’s Zlatan Ibrahimovic.”

Hamren added that Ibrahimovic had discussed retirement with him in “January or February” but that Ibrahimovic only confirmed it Tuesday.

“I think Sweden do have a bright future in football, but of course if we lose Zlatan Ibrahimovic that will be a huge loss,” Hamren said. “As a goal scorer of course but also as an individual he has really helped Swedish football.”

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